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Minnesota lawmakers mull strengthening LGBTQ+, abortion rights with constitutional amendment

Equal Rights Amendment could be on Minnesota's ballot soon
Equal Rights Amendment could be on Minnesota's ballot soon 02:12

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A House Rules Committee on a proposed Equal Rights Amendment moved the legislation forward Monday following discussion and public testimony — with language changes to include pregnancy protections — in a 9-5 vote.

The Equal Rights Amendment would put protections in the Constitution providing for equal rights under the law regardless of sex, race, national origin or gender identity. The amendment proposal would also add protections in the constitution for abortion and LGBTQ rights. It also removes language surrounding religion and creed.

"This is why it's going to voters," S.F. 37 author, (DFL) Rep. Kaohly Her said. "To decide on this. This is not about what I believe, it's about putting the most comprehensive languages out there for Minnesotans to decide."

The Minnesota Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support last year, but without the pregnancy langauge intended to protect abortion rights.

Opposes of the bill say its language is deceptive to voters, and worry about legal ramifications it might bring, among other things.

"This bill cloaks abortion up to birth under the guise of pregnancy," Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Co-Executive Director Cathy Blaeser said.

Some say the amendment would be among the nation's most expansive protections of abortion and LGBTQ+ rights if it is approved by lawmakers this session and then by voters on the 2026 ballot.

"With the word pregnancy and not abortion, you are tricking us," Republican People of Color in Minnesota Mohamed Amin Ahmed said. "Please understand that. Why would you trick us? to fool us? To trick someone is to treat them like fools. We are not."

"This language that is being proposed is not clear. This has definitely not gone through the process," Republican Minority Rep. Lisa Demuth said.

Those in favor of the amendment say it better aligns with Minnesota values.

"It's time to reach beyond our past to upend the stereotypes and systems of suffering to recognize the full dignity and humanity of all Minnesotans because the ERA is for all and all means all. Equality has no qualifiers," ERA Minnesota Founder Betty Folliard said. 

The bill hits the House floor next. It needs to pass the full House, and the Senate needs to agree to the language before the session ends in two weeks in order to get it on the ballot in 2026. 

"I strongly support this constitutional amendment because it does support health care and it specifically support healthcare for people of all genders," DFL Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Sydney Jordan said. "That's because abortion is healthcare."

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